Last night, I didn’t have a dinner plan. I will spare you all the reasons why; they aren’t important. But at 6:15pm, I was without a plan and had about 45 minutes to get it figured out. I wanted to fix pizza but the pizza dough in the freezer was frozen solid, and, there wasn’t enough left for our whole family. I was mad with myself for not being on top of this like a “really good wife and mother”. There was a battle going on in my head — Perfectionist and Self-Loather were letting me have it and I could hardly think through my options for all the noise. I almost called my husband and told him we’d meet him somewhere for dinner; I was that desperate. But what a hassle that would be! We’d have to put on clothes suitable for being in public, hair would have to brushed, shoes located, and then it would be late by the time we got home; plus, it would just be expensive. I considered calling my husband and having him stop at the grocery store on the way home. Self-Loather had brought along Helpless and Hopeless. I was ready to give in. I repented for ever judging anyone who fed their family prepared foods, and told myself this healthy eating from scratch thing was just too hard. Then Stubborn showed up. She and Perfectionist make a great team and suddenly I knew what I would do: stop feeling sorry for myself, suck it up, and just make pizza from scratch. The voice in my head was loud: I will NOT give in! I will NOT give in!
With determination I began flipping through my cookbooks. My first choice, the King Arthur whole wheat cookbook, had a pizza dough recipe but it was lengthy and complicated. Not an option. In my mind I scanned my recipe file; nothing there. Then I remembered the good old plaid cookbook that had been a wedding gift so long ago. The Better Homes and Gardens NEW COOKBOOK, copyright 1989. There is always a recipe in there for the most basic of things and sure enough on page 247 I found one for pizza. A quick scan revealed that it said to pre-bake the crust, then top and bake again. I started to doubt, then Stubborn told me pre-baking was a waste of time and to hurry up and get busy.
So at 6:16pm I started mixing dough for pizza. The recipe said to combine 1 ¼ cups flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl then add 1 cup warm water and 2 Tablespoons oil. Beat this with an electric mixer, then gradually add the remaining 1 ½ cups flour while kneading by hand, until the dough was “moderately stiff” and “smooth and elastic.” I quickly grabbed my bag of King Arthur organic white flour from the pantry and started in. At 6:20 my dough was “moderately stiff” and “smooth and elastic.” I couldn’t believe it – 4 minutes! The recipe said this would take 6 to 8 minutes! And oh, it felt so good to have my hands in that dough! I worked Helpless, Hopeless, and Self-Loather right out of my head. The recipe only yielded 2 pizza crusts so I did it again. In about 8-10 minutes, I had fresh homemade pizza dough resting on my kitchen counter, enough to feed my whole family. Ahhhhh, satisfying.
As usual, my thoughts turned toward processed convenience foods. I wondered what the big deal was – this was so easy. And, I was in total control of the ingredients. Not only that, but our pizza would have cost more. I paid $7 for a 5lb bag of organic flour and only used 5 ½ cups – that is barely a dent. To buy enough pre-made crust for our family would have cost at least $7. Some of you are gasping at the price of my flour, but you can see that even at that price I am saving money by cooking from scratch.
What took the longest amount of time in my dinner preparations last night was not the making of the dough from scratch. It was the baking of 4 different pizzas, and this would have been true had I used pre-made crusts. The total cooking time for 4 pizzas baked back-to-back was about 40 minutes. I made the kid-friendly pizzas first because they would be sitting out longer and would be cooler when it was time to eat. During the baking time, I threw together a salad and made my own salad dressing. The girls set the table and my husband stood nearby, nibbling and chatting. We were home, eating our own food that we prepared ourselves. We didn’t have to brush our hair, change our clothes, or drive anywhere. There was no wait to be seated, harried servers, or immodest dress to shield from my son. And I didn’t have to worry about what scary things were in our food, because I had made it myself.
When dinner was over, instead of driving home from a restaurant, the five of us ran outside and played in the yard until just after dark. My 8 year old daughter joyfully announced, "I love it when we are all outside together!" Helpless, Hopeless, and Self-Loather were now very distant memories. Satisfaction and Thankful had just moved in.
Was this a gourmet meal? No. Would I have preferred a healthier meal than white flour pizza? Absolutely. And we could have had all the above had I been a better steward of my time and planned out our meals for the week. But even when you live by the seat of your pants, you still do not have to buy into the myth that you don’t have time to cook. And boy, our pizza was delicious. Next time, I will try this recipe with our freshly milled whole wheat.
So, I ask you this: Where are the savings when buying pre-packaged, pre-made, processed foods if you aren’t saving time or money? There are no savings. In fact, ultimately, you lose money – you pay more for these pre-packaged foods, and spend more time and money at the doctor’s office. The idea that we don’t have time to cook from scratch is just a sales pitch from big companies out to make a profit. Who are they fooling? You?
"…be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Matthew 10:16